A Call for Thorough and Honest History

This has certainly been a year for the history books, and we’re not done yet. This year was also one for major anniversaries, including the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, the 50th anniversary of Jonesborough’s Historic Zoning, and the 30th anniversary of the Jonesborough Genealogical Society. We still celebrated these anniversaries, in one way or another, but some events have been postponed until 2021.

This year is also the 200th anniversary of the publication of Elihu Embree’s newspaper, The Emancipator. We’ve been sharing monthly clippings from the paper’s seven editions. The last will be shared this week on October 31. That was the last edition Embree published. He died that December, so perhaps his health was too poor in November for him to keep publishing.

A museum exhibit is still planned for the end of the year inside the Jonesborough/Washington County History Museum, but the largest part of the anniversary celebration has been postponed until 2021, and perhaps that’s fitting. I am currently researching to learn more about Embree’s enslaved woman Nancy and her five children. Embree manumitted them in his will which went into effect in January of 1821. It does seem appropriate, then, that we share Nancy’s story on the 200th anniversary of her emancipation.


During this anniversary and through my research, I’ve tried to reconcile Embree the idealist with Embree the human being who was an enslaver until the day he died. This dichotomy highlights the importance of a history education that is truthful, varied, and reveals all the facts, even when they’re hard to swallow. I had one of those moments earlier this year when the Washington County Archives shared a document with me.

In February 1806, Jefory, a black man who was an apprentice with Embree filed suit against him, claiming that Embree “ . . .Hath unlawfully and immoderately whipped (sic) beat and abused sd servant.” Another such suit was filed against Embree in May of that year. Embree confessed to the beatings. This was in 1806, perhaps before his spiritual awakening that led to his emancipation fervor? Still, the fact remains that Embree did not manumit all of his slaves until his death. How long would Nancy and her children have remained enslaved if Embree had not passed in 1820? We can only wonder.

A study of history presents several reasons why Embree may have continued to enslave Nancy and her family. It was intentionally expensive to manumit enslaved people at the time, and Embree may not have had the funds. Also, you couldn’t manumit the children and not the parent, and there were five children. Embree tried to explain his reasons in his paper, but he was never able to judge himself the same way he judged other enslavers.

History is messy. It’s not easy, but we have to know the whole story, view the whole picture, and that comes with seeing our idealists, our movers and shakers for who they were: human beings. Does the fact that Embree was an enslaver discount the work he did for emancipation? No. But it paints him in a broader context. Knowing this about him encourages us to search for more information on Nancy, on her children Frames, Abegil, Sophea, Mount, and John. It also encourages us to learn more about Jefory and his role in Washington County in 1806. When we truly engage with history, we have far more questions than answers, and we’re always uncovering more stones with stories to be told underneath.

Heritage Alliance Salvage Warehouse Receives a…House?

When you are an organization that manages an archival collection, you never know what unexpected donations might come your way; strange Victorian mourning artifacts, any manner of items “used by Andy Jackson,” and maybe even a house!

That is exactly what happened at the Heritage Alliance this summer when a deconstructed, disassembled home that had been in storage for decades had to be relocated. A series of events and contacts orchestrated with the help of Dr. Bill Kennedy led to the building being donated to the Heritage Alliance’s Salvage Warehouse.

A large portion of the donation comes from the Albert Jackson Tipton home. A.J. Tipton was the great grandson of Col. John Tipton, and the house was located on North Riverside Drive in Elizabethton. The exact date of the home’s construction has not been determined. However based on the home’s Greek Revival style and A.J. Tipton’s age (born 1820, died 1882), it was possibly constructed by the 1850s. Info from family indicates that Tipton built the house, although no deed research has been done. If the house was built earlier, it would have had to have been built by Tipton’s father, James Ireland Tipton (1792-1861).

The house was a two story brick structure with a two story frame section. There was a rear porch that was added later, possibly in the 1880s by Tipton’s son John Wright Tipton (1848-1908). Sanborn maps indicate that there were also changes to the front porch, likely completed between 1913 and 1924 by Tipton’s granddaughter-in-law Belle Carter Tipton (1877-1946). The Tipton family sold the property in the late 1970s, and the house was dismantled in the 1980s.

The donation to the Heritage Alliance included:
1. Approximately 7500 site made bricks
2. 16 4’x8 windows
3. Two mantels
4. Several doors
5. Two entryways
6. Radiator covers

We have information about some of the donated items. For example, the brick we received is far less than the full amount needed for the entire house. Also, the steam radiator covers feature Art Deco designs and would have likely been added in the 1930s. There are some mysteries as well, such as the fact that the balancing system used on the donated windows was not invented until the mid 1880s.
For more information about the history of the home, the donated items, and their availability in our Salvage Warehouse, please contact the Heritage Alliance at (423) 753-4580 or email us at info@heritageall.org!

Progressive Dinner Update

This is the time when we’re usually gearing up for the Progressive Dinner in December. Unfortunately, we have decided to cancel this year’s event. It was not an easy decision to make, but we know it is the best and safest decision. The Progressive Dinner is not gone for good, just on break for a year. We will miss seeing you in Jonesborough that weekend, but we hope you’ll visit us in 2021 for one of our new and exciting Summer Suppers.


This year has been one of growth and change for the Heritage Alliance and we’ve worked to adapt several of our existing programs and create new ones. Summer Suppers will launch in 2021 and will invite guests for an intimate meal on the lawn of a historic home. The evening will include local food, lovely music, and plenty of interesting history. More information on the suppers and specific dates will be announced soon. The best way to stay up to date with the Heritage Alliance is to visit our website and to follow us on Facebook and Instagram.


There are still several ways you can help support the Heritage Alliance, our educational programs, and preservation. Throughout the pandemic, the Heritage Alliance has worked to share and preserve local history, even when our buildings were closed to the public. We have increased our digital presence with virtual exhibits, virtual field trips for students, and educational web series on the Chester Inn Museum’s YouTube channel. We encourage you to check out these exhibits in our Digital Exhibit Hall on our website and to check out our new web series like “Homecooked History.” The Heritage Alliance will be participating in Giving Tuesday Now on Tuesday, December 1st. That day we’ll have a variety of virtual activities to connect with our audiences. Join us on December 1st from wherever you may be. The best way to support the Heritage Alliance and all we do is to become a Member. You can join via our website.

A Spot on the Hill Live on the Air with the StoryTown Radio Show

The popular annual play A Spot on the Hill, written by Heritage Alliance director Anne G’Fellers-Mason, usually performs before sold-out crowds at the historic cemetery in Jonesborough, and features stories about the people buried there. This year, due to COVID-19, the cast was unable to perform as usual. However, the Heritage Alliance is partnering with the StoryTown Radio Show this month to present a combined production: A Spot on the Hill: On the Air!


“Anne and I have collaborated on so many projects together. When I heard that she was not going to be able to do her production, I realized that our monthly StoryTown Radio Show and Podcast could provide an opportunity for the play to still take place- but as a radio style program,” explained Jules Corriere, McKinney Center Outreach Program Director and the writer and director of the StoryTown series.


When Corriere presented the idea to Mason, they both agreed it would be a great opportunity. The cast of A Spot on the Hill, many of whom are regular performers on the StoryTown Radio Show and Podcast, will perform their play after all. Corriere will book-end the performance with two or three local ghost stories to round out the hour, and the production will be presented as a livestream on the StoryTown Facebook page as well as its own podcast episode on the StoryTown podcast channel.


“I’m really happy that this important and creative work by the Heritage Alliance will still be presented, even if it is in a different format. I really support the work of the Heritage Alliance, and all they do for the community,” continued Corriere, who served for six years on the Board of Trustees for the organization.


The Livestream event will take place virtually on Monday, October 26 at 7:00 PM. The audio version will air on WETS 89.5 FM Johnson City on Wednesday, October 28 at 8PM, and the podcast will be available starting Friday, October 30 on the StoryTown podcast, wherever you listen to podcasts.


The StoryTown Radio Show is sponsored in part by a grant from the Tennessee Arts Commission, and is a project out of the McKinney Center and Jonesborough’s Mary B. Martin Program for the Arts.


Here is a link to watch the show – https://www.facebook.com/StoryTownRadioShow/


You do not need a Facebook account to watch the livestream.

Virtual History Happy Hour Online October 22nd to Discuss Appalachian Author Mildred Haun

History Happy Hour is back online in October, with a new date! This month’s presentation is now going to be on Thursday, October 22nd, at 6:30 pm.


Join speaker Kelsey Solomon for her presentation “Appalachian Writer Mildred Haun.” Mildred Haun was an Appalachian writer and editor whose work included The Hawk’s Done Gone, a collection of fiction published in 1940. Ms. Solomon is an English professor at Walters State Community College, and she is also the chair of the Mildred Haun Conference. The conference is an annual meeting that spotlights themes and research in the field of Appalachian studies that is held at Walters State. Join us online on Thursday October 22nd at 6:30 pm to learn more!


The program will be offered through the Zoom platform and will also be streamed live on the Chester Inn Museum’s Facebook page. Go to the Chester Inn Museum Facebook page for the link to the meeting room and for the password to login. The program will begin online at 6:30 pm and participants can join the Zoom meeting or stream live on Facebook at that time. Participants who use Zoom are encouraged to keep their microphones muted and relay any questions during the presentation to the chat. The program is free and open to the public!


Topic: History Happy Hour: Appalachian Writer Mildred Haun
Time: Oct 15, 2020 06:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Every month on the Third Thu, until Nov 19, 2020, 2 occurrence(s)
Oct 22, 2020 06:00 PM
Nov 19, 2020 06:00 PM

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 825 0910 2750
Passcode: History
One tap mobile
+13017158592,,82509102750#,,,,,,0#,,8704513# US (Germantown)
+13126266799,,82509102750#,,,,,,0#,,8704513# US (Chicago)

Dial by your location
+1 301 715 8592 US (Germantown)
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
+1 646 558 8656 US (New York)
+1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)
+1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
+1 669 900 9128 US (San Jose)
Meeting ID: 825 0910 2750
Passcode: 8704513
Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kbSQyWGMFo

Conversation with Dr. Alex Navarro editor of the Influenza Encyclopedia

Chester Inn Museum docent Joe Spiker was joined by Dr. Alex Navarro, assistant director of the University of Michigan’s Center for the History of Medicine and editor-in-chief of the Influenza Encyclopedia, for a conversation about the 1918 influenza pandemic. They discussed how the Influenza Encyclopedia project came about, measures taken during the 1918 pandemic, and how we can compare that pandemic to the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic.
Influenza Encyclopedia – https://www.influenzaarchive.org/
Email us with questions or for more information: chesterinn@heritageall.org. Follow the Chester Inn on Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube channel to keep up with our content.

Guerrilla Warfare in Appalachia: Bushwhackers, Bandits, and Whacking People with a Stick

History Happy Hour is online again in September! This month’s presentation will feature a pre-recorded talk followed up by a Q and A with the speaker.

Meeting ID: 825 0910 2750
Password: History

Join speaker Gary Purchase for his presentation “Guerrilla Warfare in Appalachia: Bushwhackers, Bandits, and Whacking People with a Stick.” Mr. Purchase is a Park Ranger at the David Crockett Birthplace State Park. Gary will be discussing the role that guerrilla warfare has played in the region during different conflicts throughout U.S. history. Which conflicts did Appalachians participate in with guerrilla tactics? Join us online on Thursday September 17th at 6:30 pm and find out!

The program will be offered through the Zoom platform and will also be streamed live on the Chester Inn’s Facebook page. Go to the Chester Inn Facebook page for the link to the meeting room and for the password to login. The program will begin online at 6:30 pm and participants can join the Zoom meeting or stream live on Facebook at that time. Participants who use Zoom are encouraged to keep their microphones muted and relay any questions during the presentation to the chat. The program is free and open to the public!

This project is funded under an agreement with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Tennessee Historical Commission. For more information on the Chester Inn Museum, History Happy Hour, or the Heritage Alliance please call our office at 423.753.9580 or the Chester Inn Museum at 423.753.4580. You can also contact the organization via email at info@heritageall.org.  Additional information about the Heritage Alliance and its mission can be found online at http://www.heritageall.org/. Be sure to follow the Chester Inn and Heritage Alliance Facebook pages for updates about events at the Chester Inn and other Heritage Alliance programs.

7th Annual Ringing of the Bells for Constitution Week at Oak Hill School

On Sunday, September 13th, the State of Franklin Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR), are hosting their Seventh Annual Bell Ringing in honor of Constitution Week. The event will take place at 1:30 p.m. at Oak Hill School, located at 214 East Sabin Drive in Jonesborough across from the Jonesborough Public Library. The program will include history on the 19th Amendment to the Constitution that prohibited denying citizens the right to vote based on gender. Linda Good with the Johnson City Women’s Suffrage Centennial Celebration will be honored for her work in commemorating local history. Several groups will be participating, including the Kings Mountain NSSAR, the Town of Jonesborough, Fort Watauga Society Children of the American Revolution, and the Overmountain Victory Trail Association.  Bring your chairs, your bells, and your face coverings that Sunday and “make a joyful noise” as America celebrates the 233rd Anniversary of the U.S. Constitution.


The event will include a proclamation from Jonesborough Mayor Chuck Vest, a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem on the cello from Thomas Donahue, a special presentation from the Fort Watauga Society Children of the American Revolution, and much more. This year’s celebration will include special, pop-up bell ringings at specific sites throughout the week of September 17-23. Watch for these pop-up bell ringings on the Heritage Alliance’s social media.


The bell ringing on September 13th will follow all CDC guidelines. Washington County is currently under a face covering mandate. Social distancing will be observed on the lawn of the schoolhouse, and there is plenty of space for guests to spread out. Please bring your own chair and your own bell to ring. Seating will not be provided on site.


The Daughters of the American Revolution began the tradition of celebrating the Constitution.  In 1955, the DAR petitioned Congress to set aside September 17-23 annually to be dedicated for the observance of Constitution Week.  The resolution was adopted by Congress and signed into law on August 2, 1956, by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.  The State of Franklin Chapter of the NSDAR has been based in Jonesborough since 1929.

Educational Resources for “To Make Our Voices Heard: Tennessee Women’s Fight for the Vote”

“To Make Our Voices Heard: Tennessee Women’s Fight for the Vote” is currently on display at the Jonesborough & Washington County History Museum. As part of the exhibit, there are lots of great educational resources people can access if they’d like to know more. Follow the links below for additional information on the fight for the 19th amendment and the pivotal role Tennessee played.


Tennessee State Museum recently opened Ratified! Tennessee Women and the Right to Vote, an 8,000 square foot exhibition exploring the Women’s Suffrage movement in Tennessee, as well as, an online component called Ratified! Statewide! highlighting the suffrage movement in every Tennessee county.



Educator resources from a wide range of institutions and organizations have been compiled on the TNWoman100 website.


• Professional Development for Educators
• Lesson Plans
• Primary Source Sets
• Digital Collection & Online Exhibits
• Traveling Trunks & Docs Boxes
• Woman Suffrage Timeline
• Tennessee and the 19th Amendment for Woman Suffrage
• Historical Background
• Videos


Additional digital content is available on the Tennessee State Museum website and YouTube channel.



To Make Our Voices Heard: Tennessee Women’s Fight for the Vote was organized by the Tennessee State Library and Archives and the Tennessee State Museum with funding provided by The Official Committee of the State of Tennessee Woman Suffrage Centennial. This project was also funded in part by a grant from Humanities Tennessee, an independent affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Heritage Alliance to Participate in Freedom Stories on September 5

The International Storytelling Center (ISC), home to the world-renowned National Storytelling Festival and Storytelling Live! Teller-in-Residence series, will host a free virtual event titled What You Don’t Know (But Should) About Appalachian Slavery on Saturday, September 5th, from 1-2:30 pm as part of the Freedom Stories project.


Freedom Stories is an ongoing series that illuminates the underappreciated and neglected stories of African Americans in Appalachian history and highlights the role that face-to-face storytelling has played in both African and Appalachian cultures. Through Freedom Stories virtual events, the project marries performance and discussion, connecting prominent African American storytellers, artists, humanities scholars, and community experts to trace the rich history of African Americans in Appalachia—from the first African arrivals in Appalachia, to the shaping of a distinct culture, to the struggles for freedom and equality. The project will also produce multi-media resources that will be made accessible to a national audience.

As the nation learns to grapple with difficult truths, this free public event will serve as a model for how to engage in productive discussions around complex topics. The distinguished panel will feature Frank X. Walker, a self-identified “Affrilachian” poet and author; author and historian, Anne Mason of the Heritage Alliance of Northeast Tennessee & Southwest Virginia; West Virginia storyteller and humanities scholar, Ilene Evans of Voices from the Earth; and Dr. Dinah Mayo-Bobee from East Tennessee State University Department of History. The panel will be moderated by ISC Freedom Stories Project Director, Dr. Alicestyne Turley.


The live panel discussion will take place on September 5th, from 1-2:30 pm EST on the International Storytelling Center’s Facebook timeline and will be followed by a public Q & A. The event will be recorded and made available to watch with closed-captioning post-event.


Alicestyne Turley, Director of the Freedom Stories Project states of the September Freedom Story, “Today’s audiences have very limited, generalized knowledge of American slavery, a knowledge informed primarily by American entertainment media. Which of course means many audiences have even less information about Appalachia or its history of slavery. Slavery in Appalachia was like the region itself, unique in its form and application. The September public discussion will be a brief look at this overlooked aspect of American and regional history.”


Kiran Singh Sirah, President of ISC, says these Freedom Stories discussions are important to the region in the context of the national movement of storytelling. “For example, how many of us know that in Appalachia, more people identify as African American than Scots-Irish?” asks Sirah. “The project is not meant to neglect or subdue the stories we do know, but rather to bring forward, in public conversation, the untold stories that contribute to the uniqueness and rich traditions of Appalachia. These stories are integral to the history of the region, and Appalachia (while often othered) is integral to the story of our entire nation.”


The project is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Discussions Grant, an award based on projects that bring the ideas and insights of the humanities to life for general audiences. ISC would like to thank the following organizations for their support of the Freedom Stories Project: Appalachian African American Cultural Center, Black in Appalachia, Black/White Dialogue, Green McAdoo Cultural Center, Heritage Alliance, Langston Centre, Leadership and Civic Engagement at East Tennessee State University, McKinney Center, Northeast Tennessee Tourism Association, and the Town of Jonesborough.


To learn more about the International Storytelling Center and upcoming Freedom Stories programming, please visit www.storytellingcenter.net.